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Explore the way Wilfred Owen and Sebastian Faulks present the physical and mental suffering of soldiers in the First World War

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Introduction

Explore the way Wilfred Owen and Sebastian Faulks present the physical and mental suffering of soldiers in the First World War Both Sebastian Faulks in his novel 'Birdsong' and Wilfred Owen present suffering in soldiers fighting in the First World War in both physical and psychological ways. They present the discomforts that came from everyday living conditions in the trenches, they both present the serious physical injuries produced by the war and the haunting effect this has on them in the short and long term. Both writers present these things in a vivid and poignant style. The living conditions in the trenches were extremely poor, wet weather led to men living in deep mud and contracting 'trench foot'. The soldiers in the trenches would have had to live with constant shellfire; this could result in 'shell shock' where the untiring bombardment had worn away their nerves to the point of insanity. We can see an example of this in 'Birdsong' when Faulks is talking about "the spasmodic explosion of shells". We can see from the use of language here that Faulks relates to the shelling as insanity. As if the "spasmodic explosions" are not only the explosions but also fits of the men themselves. Owen also talks about the effects of 'shelling' in his poetry. ...read more.

Middle

Owen also writes of long-term injuries being sustained but is generally much less graphic and makes the same point in a subtler way. In the poem 'Disabled' Owen describes how a soldier has been so seriously injured that he shall never regain good health: "He's lost his colour very far from here, poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry". If Faulks wished to convey the intensity of an injury sustained he'd be more likely to write "he thought of the hole in Douglas's shoulder where he had pressed his hand through almost to the lung". Owen seems to be a more creative and subtle writer whereas Faulks seems more obvious and graphic. This might come about merely because Faulks is writing a novel and Owen poetry. Owen might have to be more creative to convey the same meaning in fewer words. Poetry being a condensed emotional form of language. He uses metaphors and similes to help us understand without explaining every detail. However Faulks does not have to be as creative and isn't as he wrote a five hundred and three page novel. To live under the extreme circumstances that the soldiers do both writers explain that the soldiers build up psychological defences. The ability is grown to numb their emotions and adapt so as to be able to cope with seeing the death of men everyday, some of which were friends. ...read more.

Conclusion

We become intimately acquainted with him. However, his death is presented suddenly and completely without compassion; "A snipers bullet entered his head above the eye causing trails of his brain to loop out onto the sandbags of the parados behind him" Owen presents death romantically trying to provoke sympathetic feelings. "Move him into the sun-, gently its touch awoke him once, At home, whispering of fields unsown"(Futility). Owens' language coveys a sense of emotional turmoil. By his use of words like 'gentle' he emphasises his emotional sympathy for this man's death, making the body have a sense of fragility. Owen refers to "home" to heighten the emotional significance and sadness in order to convey the significance of his death. In conclusion, it is my opinion that Wilfred Owen and Sebastian Faulks write quite differently about the suffering of soldiers in the First World War. Owen seems to write more poetically and spiritually. This could be because he knew the people who dyed or were mutilated and so was more sensitive around the subject. Also he was writing poetry so he would have had to convey more sentiment or information in a smaller amount of text. Owen could have been more sentimental because of the closed-off position he was in. Whereas Faulks wrote retrospectively, knowing what happened throughout the war. He wrote more objectively and less personally. Faulks could not relate in the same way and so tends to write more obviously and graphically. Words:1812 1 Hereward Campbell-Anderson ...read more.

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